In “ Double Down,” journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say that Obama followed up his presidential debate by conducting a “dismal” mock debate with then-Sen. John Kerry .

“If we don’t fix this, we could lose the whole f*ing election,” Obama advisor David Plouffe reportedly said following the mock debate.

Obama’s advisors attempted to shift his tone and approach in advance of the second presidential debate, leading Obama to respond, “I can’t tell you that ‘Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better.’ I am wired in a different way than this event requires. … I just don’t know if I can do this.”

For her part, Michelle Obama reportedly did not suffer from the same reservations as her husband, telling a group of female Obama campaign donation bundlers that the president had only lost the first debate because “Romney is a really good liar.”